Jon Stewart’s Directing Debut ‘Rosewater’ Scores Awards Season Release Date

Categories: Uncategorized

jonJon Stewart has already hosted the Oscars. Now he just might get to attend as a nominee.

Rosewater,” “The Daily Show” host’s directorial debut, just landed a prime awards-friendly release date, positioning it for an awards campaign should the distributor decide to mount one.

The Open Road release lands in select theaters on November 7 and is based on BBC journalist Maziar Bahari’s 118 day-ordeal in Iran, during which he was tortured and imprisoned.

Gael Garcia Bernal stars in the film, which was produced by Scott Rudin, Stewart, and Gigi Pritzker. Stewart also wrote the screenplay, which is based on Bahari’s best-selling memoir “Then They Came for Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity, and Survival.”

The film is set against a backdrop of a series of protests that greeted Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s 2009 victory and also traces the international campaign Bahari’s wife led to have her husband freed.

Stewart and “The Daily Show” covered Bahari’s saga. The film will screen at the Toronto Film Festival.

Presented by The Griper – E.Cowan

Written by

Jamie Foxx To Play Mike Tyson

Categories: Uncategorized

jfHaving already played the corner man to one of the greatest boxers of all-time, Jamie Foxx looks ready to get back in the ring to portray one of the most recognizable boxers and sports figures of this generation.

Sources tell Variety that Foxx is attached to play Mike Tyson in an untitled biopic that Terence Winter is set to pen. Rick Yorn, who is Foxx’s manager, is shepherding the project and will produce.

The package is still coming together and is currently without a studio, but once the final details are ironed out and it is presented to the market, it shouldn’t be hard to interest a distributor.

As one of the most polarizing figures in sports, producers are eager to tackle Tyson’s life story. Known for the power and ferocity he displayed in the ring, Tyson became not just the top boxer at the end of the ’80s but one of the most popular sports figures, with a rough around-the-edges personality he displayed both in and out of the ring.

After losing his heavyweight title in 1990 following the upset loss to Buster Douglas, Tyson’s life began to spin out of control, including a six-year stint in prison after being found guilty of rape. Tyson returned to boxing but never quite returned to form, and became more known for his losses to Evander Holyfied (a match which made headlines when Tyson bit off part of Holyfield’s ear) and Lennox Lewis.

After leaving boxing in 2005, Tyson still had hurdles to overcome, such as his 2003 bankruptcy and the death of his young daughter. In recent years, he has kept out of trouble.

He premiered a one-man show in Vegas in 2012 that he later took to Broadway with the help of Spike Lee and released a memoir “Undisputed Truth” that made the New York Times bestseller list.

Though it’s unknown exactly which parts of Tyson’s life Winter will focus on, he has plenty of material to cover over the past 30 years. HBO tackled the story before with the 1995 pic “Tyson” starring Michael Jai White, but no one has tried to adapt his story as a feature film, though boxing is a popular sport for films.

Foxx played Muhammad Ali’s corner man Dwight “Bundini” Brown in “Ali” and also cocky quarterback Willie Beamen in Oliver Stone’s “Any Given Sunday.” Winter, on the other hand, is no stranger to taking on controversial figures after receiving an Oscar nom for adaptation on Wall Street bad boy Jordan Belfort’s life in “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

Presented by The Griper – E.Cowan

Written by

Drew & Jessica Barrymore’s Brother John Says Sister Likely Died Of Toxic Drug-Alcohol Combo

Categories: Uncategorized

drewThe death of Jessica Barrymore, half-sister of Hollywood stalwart Drew Barrymore, was likely the result of a “drug misadventure, mixing alcohol and pills,” according to their brother, John Barrymore.

The 60-year-old, speaking to the NY Daily News, compared his sibling’s death at 47 to that of late Oscar-winner Heath Ledger.

There were some empty vodka bottles, a couple bags of meth and a variety of pills in the car,” John Barrymore said of the death scene in National City, Calif. on Tuesday. “My guess is that it was the booze and pills.”

The grieving sibling made clear he didn’t think the death was a suicide, saying he “seriously [doubted] she took her own life.”

As we previously reported, the E.T. star and her older sister didn’t have a close relationship, having only met at the time of their father’s passing.

I don’t blame [Drew] for being terrified of anyone she’s related to,” John Barrymore told the paper. “Her parents were pretty toxic.”

Drew, 39, famously beat substance issues early on in life, as she admittedly had dabbled in marijuana and cocaine as a pre-teen.

Presented by The Griper – E.Cowan

Written by

Meredith Vieira On The ‘Today’ Show Turmoil, Her New Daytime Gamble

Categories: Uncategorized

hr2The woman who helped established an earlier era of No. 1 at NBC News dishes on Don Hewitt, “The View,” and trouble at her former morning home: “Shit happens, people make mistakes.”

“One of the things you need to know about Meredith is that Meredith kisses,” Matt Lauer tells me in a serious tone. “On the lips.”

It’s a personality quirk that recalls that Seinfeld episode, “The Kiss Hello,” though the debate there was about kissing on the cheek. Vieira’s greeting is much more aggressive. And yet, with her, it comes off as completely natural.

“If it were to happen with 99.9 percent of your friends, you’d say, ‘Well, that’s a little weird,’ ” adds Lauer. “But when it happens with Meredith, you kiss her back!”

This is the key to Meredith Vieira‘s appeal: a level of openness unusual for anyone, much less a celebrity. “There’s no way anybody could fake what she exudes,” adds Lauer, who shared the Today show couch with her for nearly five years. “[Her] heart is almost visible as she walks towards you.”

Vieira’s openness has enabled her to form deep connections not only with the people in her life but with the millions of strangers who watch her on TV. Which is something she says she missed after she left Today in 2011, and to some extent after exiting Who Wants to Be a Millionaire last year (a job she refused to give up when she joined Today in 2006, in part because she loved giving heaps of money to ecstatic contestants). And it’s why she has decided to return to regular television — in the capricious milieu of daytime, no less — on her own talk show this fall produced by NBC.

“People desperately want to connect with other people,” says Vieira, 60. “And when you’re on daytime, it’s a different thing. They see you as their friend or their mom or their grandmother. I missed that.”

Vieira has nothing to prove. She has succeeded at a series of high-profile jobs. She was one of the original hosts of The View, serving for nine years before leaving for Today. Her work ethic and earthy personality have made her one of the most well-liked people in TV. And her willingness to put her family before her career — even when still climbing the ladder in a cutthroat industry — has made her an icon for women.

“Meredith has endless energy for people,” says Rich Sirop, the executive producer of her talk show who has known Vieira since they worked together on Millionaire in 2002. But the qualities that have made her so popular — her authenticity and emotionalism — occasionally could feel jarring in the confines of morning TV, where the higher premium is on the ability to fill hours with news, taped pieces and segments that segue seamlessly thanks to the meaningless banter among anchors. Now Vieira has the chance to build a show around her personality — quirks and all.

“It’s hard, it’s competitive,” she concedes of the daytime landscape. “I don’t know who’s even watching at 2 o’clock [when her show will air across much of the country]. They could be lying to me, but they’ve made it very clear that I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do. They backed off on a lot of things.”

The “they” of course being NBCUniversal (where CEO Steve Burke and broadcasting chairman Ted Harbert ostensibly are her bosses). Vieira has the leverage to get NBC executives to support her vision in part because she represents an era of success at NBC News when Today was on top and the blogosphere had not turned on Lauer. Her new show will channel her dedication to causes (including children’s charities, animal rights and multiple sclerosis, the disease her husband, Richard Cohen, has battled since his 20s) with humor, giveaways (an Oprah Winfrey show staple) and inspirational interviews.

“For Meredith, it was never about the fear of not succeeding,” explains Sirop. “It was, can we be different?”

Vieira insisted on shooting at NBC’s 30 Rockefeller Center headquarters, where opportunities for synergy abound: She’ll be in a refurbished sixth-floor studio across the hall from Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show. Seth Meyers’ Late Night and Saturday Night Live also shoot there, as do Nightly News with Brian Williams and MSNBC’s primetime lineup. NBC initially suggested basing the show at the company’s facility in Stamford, Conn., where it would have been cheaper; Jerry Springer, Maury Povich and Steve Wilkos all shoot there.

Sources put the budget for The Meredith Vieira Show, which will bow Sept. 8, at close to $35 million not including Vieira’s talent fee, which industry insiders put at $5 million. It’s more expensive than the average daytime talker — which costs about $20 million — though considerably less than the $50 million ABC invested in the first season of Katie Couric‘s show. But Couric also had a 4 p.m. time slot with more opportunity to reap higher ad rates.

Vieira’s show will have some unusual accoutrements: a band and a sidekick. Everett Bradley, a percussionist and backup singer with Bruce Springsteen‘s E Street Band, will lead an all-female ensemble. And Vieira chose her good friend Jon Harris, chief communications officer at Hillshire Brands in Chicago who moonlights as a musician, to be her Ed McMahon.

Her insistence on having the set mirror the living room of her Westchester County, N.Y., home — with replicas of her pet-ravaged furniture — was met with raised eyebrows, she says, as was her desire to have animals on the set. Vieira is an animal lover and vegan; Today show viewers may recall Mr. Nuts, a squirrel she nursed back to health after it was dragged home by one of her cats. And she once rescued a mouse from a sticky trap at the ABC studios where The View taped.

“I found it ironic that Disney would have sticky traps for mice,” she explains with a hint of a smile. “To me, that was sadistic beyond anything, that you would promote your entire company with a mouse and then treat these animals with such cruelty. So I came upon one and I took him outside, trying to calm him, and I peeled his little feet off the thing. I think I may have peeled a little of his foot off too. But he made it. He scampered off.”

There are no plans to have rodents on the daytime show, but a regular segment will match a service dog with a needy recipient. “They were like, ‘Eh, I don’t know,’ ” she recalls. “Always having an animal on set, wanting to have the old ratty furniture there, wanting Jon, somebody who was at Hillshire hawking sausages. It had to be a real friend or it wouldn’t be right. … They didn’t want a band because who does a band in daytime? And also you have to pay them. I kept saying it really fits who I am. And they came around; I give them a lot of credit.”

Vieira has been in the TV business long enough to know not only exactly what she wants but also how to get it. She famously quit 60 Minutes when Don Hewitt would not let her work part-time after the birth of her second child, Gabe, in 1991. She declined offers to host CBS’ Early Show and ABC’s Good Morning America when her three children — now 25, 22 and 21 — were young. And she resisted earlier offers from NBC and others to host a daytime show after she left Today.

“She’s not impressed by fame, money, prestige or the ability to set the agenda. What’s important to her is to have a happy family life,” notes Today executive producer Don Nash. “She’s the poster child for someone who figured it out.” The health struggles of her husband, a news producer and author of a book about his battle with MS, seem to deepen her relationship with fans.

Vieira received an outpouring of support when she revealed via Twitter that she and Cohen had spent a weekend in March in the hospital after a blood clot in his leg partially traveled to his lung, which can be fatal. “He’s fine. But he’s a little bit diminished. His walking is less stable,” she says. “Richard’s very independent. Stubbornly so. I think that’s one of the reasons he’s done as well as he has. He lived in denial for a really long time, until he couldn’t anymore. He needed a cane. His eyesight is so compromised, he’s legally blind. And that’s hard for a writer. But we’re a team. That’s the way I see it. We take care of each other.”

Vieira voluntarily has left every job she’s ever had, including then-top-rated Today, to spend more time with her family. “She’s always known when it was the right time to move on,” observes Jeff Zucker, president of CNN Worldwide, who recruited Vieira to Today and later would launch Couric’s daytime effort at ABC. “That’s one of the great skills in life, not just television.”

She also never adjusted to Today‘s brutal early morning hours. But it nonetheless was a bold move to give up a role on an iconic program in 2011 against the entreaties of NBC News executives who, as has been borne out, did not have a very good succession plan in place.

“That was such a bad time,” says Vieira, referring to the botched handover from Ann Curry, who replaced Vieira, to Savannah Guthrie in 2012. “I really felt for Matt a lot. And I felt for Ann, too. It turned so nasty, really nasty. Every day you’re reading this stuff that is just beyond cruel from angry, angry people who felt that Ann had been slighted and embarrassed and humiliated. And they basically pointed to one person on whom to take out all of their anger. I don’t know if I would have survived that.”

She says she did not offer Lauer advice through the turmoil. “I just told him I loved him and I was there for him. But I never sugarcoated what had happened. I thought it had not been handled smartly from the very beginning, because I don’t think they ever felt that was the right fit for Ann so they should never have put her in that position to begin with. And then the ending was so mishandled. But you know what, shit happens. People make mistakes. We all do.”

One insider speculates that NBC would have paid Vieira more than $10 million a year to stay at Today. (When she left, her contract was worth about $8 million a year.) Less than a year later, the show, which had topped the ratings for more than 16 years, fell to second place against Good Morning America.

“I think they thought, ‘She’s not going to leave, it’s too much money’ — which is a real incentive,” says Vieira. “Then I realized if I’m sticking around for that, there’s something wrong. If you don’t feel like doing the job, especially a job that’s that hard on your life, why keep doing it? I like being well-paid. But that’s never my incentive for jobs.”

NBC executives now see Vieira as the key to restoring profits and prestige to daytime. Since Winfrey left her wildly profitable syndicated show in 2011, there has been much jockeying for supremacy. Currently, Dr. Phil is the most popular daytime talker, averaging 4.1 million viewers each week (and a 1.7 rating among daytime’s target demographic of women 25-to-54), followed by Live! With Kelly and Michael and Ellen DeGeneres‘ feel-good hour. But the growth in daytime is among urban audiences; it’s in part why Wendy Williams and Steve Harvey are succeeding (both shows are up among viewers and women 25-to-54 year-over-year and Williams’ show has the youngest audience at 49; Couric’s audience is among the oldest at 61). NBC also produces Harvey’s show, and that success has emboldened the broadcaster to put more resources into daytime talk.

“Are we buoyed by the fact that we got something right, which is rare in television? Sure,” says NBC’s Harbert. “But I don’t look at Meredith as much of a gamble.”

Yes, Vieira is a superstar personality with a portable fan base. But daytime is a notoriously challenging arena where shows fronted by everyone from reality stars (Bethenny Frankel, Kris Jenner) to megawatt anchors (Couric) have failed to achieve staying power. Asked whether Couric has offered her any advice, Vieira laughs: “No, I don’t know what advice she’d want to give me, except maybe, ‘Run!’ “

Meanwhile The View faces an uncertain future as it heads into its 18th season, with creator Barbara Walters departing in May, Jenny McCarthy and Sherri Shepherd fired in June and Rosie O’Donnell, who replaced Vieira in 2006, returning in September to join remaining co-host Whoopi Goldberg.

“I like our hand,” adds Harbert. “The key to daytime TV is to get [guests] to spill their life. …Meredith Vieira is a human magnet. People love to talk to her.”

But Vieira also has a subversive streak. It’s partly what made her such a successful traffic cop on The View, where her biting humor often pinpricked the helium-filled rants of her co-hosts. To this day, every time she is at NBC — she has remained a news correspondent there — she sneaks into Lauer’s dressing room and scribbles profanities on his mirror. “If I see her in the makeup room or in the studio,” says Lauer, “I know that when I walk into my dressing room she will have taken her lipstick and written something completely vile on my mirror. Meredith has an edge.”

Vieira’s tireless work ethic was instilled early on. Her mother and father were first-generation Portuguese-Americans whose own parents emigrated from the Azores and settled in the working-class fishing port of New Bedford, Mass. Vieira and her brothers were raised in Providence, R.I., where her father was a general practitioner whose patients mostly were recent Portuguese immigrants.

“My dad did not leave his office until every patient had been seen,” she recalls. “So he would come home at 11 o’clock at night. I wouldn’t see him a lot. I put him up on a pedestal way before I realized that my mom should be there. My mom was always pushing me. I had three older brothers, and she said, ‘You can do what they can do and more.’ Maybe she was living a little bit vicariously through me and wanted more for me.”

If Vieira’s mother pushed her to achieve, it probably was her father who set her moral compass. “He was just a very kind man. A lot of his practice involved talking to people. It wasn’t just examining them. He got a lot out of really getting into the heads of people. He talked to us about that, how you really need to listen to people. Everybody knew Dr. Vieira in Providence.”

Including notorious Providence crime boss Ray Patriarca. Because Vieira’s father also was among the city’s medical examiners, he occasionally was called to testify at criminal trials. “[Patriarca] would call the house,” recalls Vieira. “My father would go to the phone and I would hear him say, ‘Ray, no. I can’t do that. That would not be right.’ He wanted my father to lie on the stand. But they had a cordial relationship. Nobody ever threatened my father. But it was like, my god, the mob is calling!”

Vieira desperately wanted to go to Harvard, but she did not get in and enrolled at nearby Tufts. On Saturdays, she would hitchhike to Harvard Square. “I would sit in the coffee shops and pretend I went to Harvard. It was very sad. I got over it eventually. But I just always had a little bit of a chip on my shoulder. And I was also a lost soul.”

She majored in theater but happened into journalism when she took a broadcasting class as a senior. Her clear, distinctive voice was well-suited for radio, and she landed an internship at WEEI in Boston. After graduation, she found a job at a Top 40 station in Worcester, Mass. That’s where she was when she answered a call from the news director at Providence radio and TV station WJAR. “He wasn’t looking for me. He was calling for someone else,” she says. “But he liked my voice.” He offered her a weekend radio job, which quickly led to a TV gig. “I think that he thought I looked OK and he also needed women. And they listed me as a minority because I was Portuguese.”

Her move to WCBS in New York in 1979 had a similar twist: The news director’s secretary later confided to her that management categorized her as Hispanic, “which was bullshit,” says Vieira. “But I was very lucky. I graduated from college in 1975. And that’s when quotas were a really big deal. So if you were African-American or female, they needed you, you were a number. So that’s how I got a series of jobs.”

This of course underplays Vieira’s skills. But it likely was a combination of her talent and her gender that piqued the interest of 60 Minutes creator Don Hewitt, who offered her a full-time job in 1989, barely six months after the birth of her first child, Ben. “That was the only job in the business that I ever really, truly wanted,” she says.

When Hewitt took her to lunch to talk about the job, she brought her infant son along. “I held Ben’s hand the whole time just to remind myself that I’m a mom now because Don can be very persuasive when he’s talking about the things you’ll do and the places you’ll go. … I needed [Ben] with me to ground me because my head could have easily gone into the clouds.”

She took the job. “I thought, ‘I can balance this; I’ll be able to do this.’ ” But she quickly discovered that the emotional pull of her child was too strong. “I would cry when I was home because I really didn’t want to go to work. I would cry when I was away because I wanted to be home,” she says. “It was tough. And yet I loved telling stories.”

Then, at the end of 1990, she became pregnant with her second child, and because of multiple previous miscarriages, her doctor advised her not to travel during the first trimester. “I hadn’t told Don that I was pregnant. And he called me for some story in France; he wanted me to get on the Concorde. And I was panicking because I knew this was not going to go down well. So I said, ‘I’m pregnant.’ And there was this long silence. And then he said, ‘Well I’ve got to get off and find someone else then.’ And from there on it was all downhill.”

Her second son, Gabe, was born in 1991; Vieira told Hewitt she would again need to work part-time for six months. “And he said, ‘Well, you do it [full-time] or you can’t stay.’ And I said, ‘OK, I’m out of here.’ “

Her dismissal spurred national headlines about the struggles of working mothers as well as some doubt in Vieira, too. “I started to question my identity,” she admits. “A woman came up to me at a party right after … she cornered me and she was really nasty: ‘How dare you do this? We’ve seen you as a woman who can do it all. You’ve represented that to people. And what you’re doing is setting back all women.’ ” In the moment, Vieira was too shocked to defend herself, but today she does so clearly: “To me life is about priorities. You set the ones that work for you and you shouldn’t be judged.”

If Vieira has made a habit of kissing her friends on the mouth, she offers a slightly less intimate greeting for total strangers: the hug. Not the loose, airy embrace reserved for superficial acquaintances but the all-in, two-armed clinch.

On a recent July afternoon, Vieira is doling out greetings — not kisses but full-armed hugs — to strangers who approach her as we make our way through The Beverly Hilton, where she is promoting her show at the Television Critics Association Press Tour: an elderly gentleman from Texas; Myrna, whose kids attended Northwestern University and who knew that Gabe and Vieira’s daughter, Lily, also went there.

“They don’t know everything about me,” observes Vieira. “But they know a lot.” These are the people in her “demo” — but the young, African-American woman wearing shorts and a Hello Kitty sweatshirt is something of an outlier. She stops Vieira as we’re leaving our lunch at Circa 55. “I, like, have a little secret thing for you,” she says quietly as she pats her heart with her hand.

“You do?!” exclaims Vieira. She enfolds the young woman in one of those hugs, also planting a kiss on her cheek. A publicist takes the young woman’s phone and snaps a picture. “OMG. Me and Meredith Vieira!” she beams. “I’m going to be watching you.”

Laughs Vieira: “My husband is always saying to me, ‘Just talk to them, don’t f—ing hug them all the time.’ But thank god! I pray that people continue to do that.”

Presented by The Griper – E.Cowan

Written by


TV Review: ‘Penn & Teller: Fool Us’

Categories: Uncategorized

foolSimple, low-key (read: cheap) and a great deal of fun, “Penn & Teller: Fool Us” manages to wed some of the pizzazz associated with old-fashioned variety shows with the peeking-behind-the-curtain quality of “Breaking the Magician’s Code.” Not that the central duo really blow the lid off the tricks that are demonstrated, but they explain enough to show the point at which they can discern how they’re done – and share in the audience’s admiration when they can’t. The approach brings a game-like component to what’s otherwise just a magic showcase, and makes this U.K. production a shrewd summer acquisition for CW.

Hosted by Jonathan Ross, “Fool Us” features a handful of European magicians performing what amounts to their best trick in front of Penn & Teller and a live studio audience. Those who completely stump the duo regarding how it’s done win the chance to perform at the P&T venue in Las Vegas, along with the benefits of receiving the pair’s seal of approval.

The competitors aren’t novices, so all of the tricks are pretty impressive. And Penn & Teller (OK, Penn) do a nifty job of articulating what makes them special or not, and whether they can tell how the illusion was achieved, by asking questions about elements like the box, die or deck of cards involved.

In a sense, this is a lot like “Whose Line Is It Anyway,” another CW transplant, where, as Drew Carey was fond of saying, “everything’s made up and the points don’t matter.” But the idea that viewers might actually learn something about how magic works – coupled with the interplay between Penn & Teller, Ross and the contestants – lifts this above just the average Vegas magic revue.

The premiere also closes with Penn & Teller performing a trick, providing a reminder of how deftly their act mixes comedy, magic and playfully letting the audience in on the gags.

Fool Us” isn’t built for a long run, necessarily, but the number of episodes slated for summer (nine) sounds about right – and offers the prospect of perhaps turning this into a utility player if the show exhibits any kind of pulse.

Granted, those aims are pretty modest, but the good news about this sort of acquisition is that ratings-wise, at least, there’s not much pressure to pull a rabbit out of a hat.

Presented by The Griper – E.Cowan

Written by

‘Big Bang Theory’ Delays Production

Categories: Uncategorized

bangThe Big Bang Theory contract talks have officially delayed production on the CBS hit comedy.

Stars Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar have not yet reached a new deal with studio Warner Bros. Television, The Hollywood Reporter has learned, with the cast officially not returning to work on season eight. 

“Due to ongoing contract negotiations, production on The Big Bang Theory — which was originally scheduled to begin today — has been postponed,” WBTV said in a statement Wednesday. The first table read of the season was scheduled to take place today. It’s unclear just how long production will be delayed as the cast and studio remain at an impasse on a new deal. The move comes as a surprise to the studio, which previously was not expecting there to be a work stoppage and the cast to arrive back at work Wednesday, with our without a contract.

Emmy winner Parsons, Galecki and Cuoco are negotiating together and seeking big salary increases. Sources told THR in September that the trio, who currently earn $325,000 per episode, are seeking up to $1 million per half-hour with a cut of the show’s back-end. Helberg and Nayyar are negotiating together and are also seeking hefty raises. Co-stars Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch previously inked new deals with WBTV, with both securing big raises.

The three-season renewal gives the cast, renegotiating new deals since September, considerable leverage — especially considering Big Bang is TV’s No. 1 comedy among total viewers, a metric it has held since the 2010-11 season. The season seven regularly topped 20 million viewers per week, up 4 percent year-over-year, with an impressive 6.1 rating among the advertiser-coveted adults 18-49 demographic. The show is also a hit in syndication on TBS, with repeats often topping some of the Big Four broadcast networks’ original fare. Big Bang is again nominated for best comedy series, but the series has yet to take home that trophy.

The series is a key part of CBS’ fall roll-out. The network will use a full hour of Big Bang Theory on Mondays to help launch rookie drama Scorpion at 9 p.m. before it moves to Thursdays after the network’s newly secured NFL programming concludes. It will then anchor the night again as CBS uses it to propel sophomore comedy The Millers.

The cast was a no-show this past weekend at San Diego Comic-Con, where for the second year in a row, the panel consisted of writers behind the series. Last year, Galecki made a surprise appearance with Rauch moderating. Parsons was at Comic-Con the day before the show’s panel to DreamWorks Animation’s Penguins of Madagascar, in which he has a voice role. There was no mention of the contract talks during the hourlong panel in San Diego.

Meanwhile, showrunner Steve Molaro has a three-year overall deal (his first) with WBTV, and co-creator/EP Chuck Lorre is also under contract with the studio. Securing Big Bang Theory’s future was a top priority for CBS, which last season bade farewell to Monday staple How I Met Your Mother. CBS recently scored rights to Thursday night NFL games, pushing Big Bang Theory to Mondays for the first few weeks of season eight, before it returns to Thursdays.

For his part, Lorre didn’t see the contract negotiations to be a problem, though that opinion may likely have changed now that production has been delayed. “There are people at Warner Bros. Television and people representing the actors who have done this before,” he told THR this month. “This will work itself out. I think it’s great; I want them all to be crazy wealthy because nobody deserves it more than this cast. It’ll work out.”

The cast’s decision to delay production comes after Modern Family co-creator/EP Christopher Lloyd staged a walk-out before  — missing the first week of work in the writers’ room — until he had reached a new deal with studio 20th Century Fox Television. The Emmy-winning comedy’s cast also had a well-documented and contentious contract renegotiation in 2012 that threatened to delay production that concluded with the six adult actors earning major pay increases.

Presented by The Griper – E.Cowan

Written by

Vin Scully Returning To Dodgers For 66th Season

Categories: Uncategorized

vinThe crowd at Dodger Stadium gave their Hall of Fame announcer a standing ovation when the team revealed during tonight’s game that he’ll be back in the booth next season. Vin Scully will return to announce Dodger games for a 66th season, more than any other broadcaster with a single team. The announcement was flashed on the scoreboard during the second inning. “Naturally there will come a time, when I will have to say goodbye” Scully, 86, said in a statement, “but I’ve soul-searched, and this is not the time.”

The timing is good for Time Warner Cable, which could use a shot of positive PR right now. Earlier today, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler blamed the cable net for the impasse that is keeping most of Los Angeles-area pay TV customers from seeing the Dodgers — whose local TV rights are controlled by TWC’s SportsNet LA. Right after the announcement, TWC sent out a press release touting a postgame interview with Scully that will be available exclusively on — you guessed it — SportsNet LA.

Presented by The Griper – E.Cowan

Written by

Why Did Mick Jagger Produce ‘Get On Up’?

Categories: Top Stories

imagesMick Jagger has been a James Brown fan for actual decades. The Rolling Stones lead singer, who turned 71 on Sunday, has admitted he copied many of Brown’s dance moves on stage. As the men rose to prominence as two of the biggest singers of the 1960s, they even became acquaintances. It was a relationship that lasted until Brown’s death in 2006.

“I saw him at a show in Cleveland. I can’t remember when, but we were both there together,” Jagger told HuffPost Entertainment when asked about the last time he saw Brown alive. “I went to see his show, and he came to see me. We had a good time.”

For Jagger, his connection to Brown has only increased in the eight years since the pioneering singer died. Peter Afterman, Brown’s estate manager and Jagger’s long-time friend, asked the Rolling Stones frontman if he wanted to make a documentary on Brown’s life after securing music rights to Brown’s catalog of hit songs. Jagger thought to take it one step further: a feature film about Brown that could work in concert with documentary. It was then that he connected with producer Brian Grazer, who had been working on a Brown movie himself for a decade with little triumph. Using a script written by Jez and John-Henry Butterworth, Jagger and Grazer put together “Get On Up,” an unconventional biography about Brown that jumps through the singer’s life, from his troubled upbringing in Georgia to his incredible career as a performer to his numerous issues with the law. (Brown was arrested multiple times on domestic violence charges and also spent time in prison for other offences, including a three year stint after leading police on a hight speed chase in 1988.)

Starring Chadwick Boseman as Brown and directed by Tate Taylor, “Get On Up” hopes to capitalize on audiences who helped make “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” and Taylor’s previous film, Best Picture-nominee “The Help,” surprise box office hits in the month of August. For his part, Jagger has everything in his power to make the film a success: In addition to being a hands-on producer for “Get On Up” during production, Jagger has promoted the film on the “Today” show and in interviews with TIME magazine, Billboard, USA Today and The Huffington Post. We spoke to Jagger about his involvement in “Get On Up” at the world famous Apollo Theater in New York on a hazy, hot and humid Saturday afternoon in July. An edited transcript of our conversation is below.

You were producing the Alex Gibney documentary, “Mr. Dynamite: James Brown and the Power of Soul,” and, as the story goes in the press notes, woke up one day and thought a feature on Brown would be great too. Why?
It’s just a different animal, isn’t it? Obviously I thought of “Ray.” I thought “Ray” was a great movie. I loved that movie and people loved that movie. But I thought, in a way, that James Brown’s life story and his onstage persona was more interesting. The onstage performances are more vivid and alive than in Ray’s story. As much as we love Ray Charles, and he’s one of my favorite singers, but I mean, when I thought about it, I thought, “Wow, if you could make a movie like that [with Ray Charles], we can certainly do a movie about someone like James Brown.” But without copying “Ray” in any way, so why not make a feature of it too? And we can do the documentary, too. They can both be fantastic.

You’ve discussed how James Brown influenced you. Watching the movie, I couldn’t help but think of how we can see parts of James Brown in singers like David Lee Roth and Axl Rose and also modern hip-hop artists like Kanye West and Jay Z. Do you think people even realize how influential Brown was across all genres of music?
Well, probably not. Why would they? But he was definitely a role model on many levels. He’s a role model as a guy who comes out on stage and really works his butt off. He always gave his best. He came out and did it. I never thought, “I want to be like that!” But obviously that rubs off on you. The other person I toured with was Little Richard. Every night he went out there — didn’t matter who the audience was, whether they were good, bad or indifferent — and he just worked it. That rubs off on you. These are guys who were just always working it. So that’s the way you want to be. On the other level, James Brown wanted to be in control of his own destiny. This movie is about someone who wants to be in control of their career and their life, especially when they came from a place where they weren’t in control or they had very little to start with.

The movie depicts the infamous T.A.M.I concert,and shows a screen version of The Rolling Stones watching Brown perform. How familiar were you with Brown before that show?
Very familiar. I had everything. I had all his music. I had seen his music here at the Apollo. I talked to him. I hung out with him.

How much influence did you have on who was cast as a Mick Jagger for that scene?
Not much, in the end. I was somewhere far away. I don’t want to talk about it really. How can I talk about it without sounding … there was a little bit of poetic license in that scene. In the end the scene works. It’s a fun scene. It wasn’t really what happened, but it works well.

As a producer was there one moment that you really fought to keep in the finished film?
I can’t really remember. My thing was, I wanted you, the audience, to be pulling for James. Sometimes when I read the script, I felt there was some feeling that you … I was really saying, “I’m not pulling for this guy enough.” It was quite simple really: It was just a question of juxtaposition of a few scenes. It wasn’t really taking things out, it was where things were in the story. It’s just where you put the accentuation. It doesn’t matter how bad he is or how good he is, you want to see both sides of a character. But nevertheless, you do want to be pulling for him.

You obviously don’t need to be a producer. Why do you do it?
I quite enjoy doing it. It’s a different discipline, but it has a lot of things that are the same [as leading the Rolling Stones]: managing large groups of people, making sure they get on with a common goal. But you’ve also got a lot of competing parties and you have problems to solve and so on. I also like the literary part of it, which I don’t really get to do that much. I like the scripts. I like solving the puzzles. I kind of enjoy the dealmaking. I mean, as long as it doesn’t go on forever. It’s a lot of moving parts! As long as it doesn’t take all my time, because I like to do creative things in other ways, it’s a great thing. It’s still a creative thing, it’s not a business only thing. So it depends which route you take. Being a producer can mean many things. For this particular movie, it was quite interesting because it did have a good literary beginning. Other movies you’re presented with a script and there is very little you can say. It’s done. It could even be cast. You still get the same credit. With this, it was a much longer process.

You weren’t just a rubber stamp of approval.
I’m not really interested in doing that. I don’t mind doing that, you know, if it’s a project you really love.

With this film and the documentary, you’ve become the de facto caretaker of James Brown’s legacy for a generation of young viewers. Do you think about who will do that for you and the Rolling Stones?
Not really. I don’t think about that much [laughs]. I always get asked about it!

With that in mind, did you feel any pressure to make sure James Brown’s legacy was shown in a way that was true to him?
Yeah, I want it to be true to him. I think he’s a wonderful artist and I didn’t want it to be over-glamorized or too de-glamorized and sleazy. In making the documentary, it was the same thing. By shading and nuancing, you can destroy someone’s reputation. In the documentary, for instance, it would be very easy to accentuate the negative side — which everyone has in their life — and that would be a mean thing to do. What I tried to do in both these films is to show not only the creative and other side, but to show him as a complete person as much as possible. But still really leave people with an uplifting feeling, which I think is a correct thing to do for an artist of his status.

How did you decide on Tate Taylor as director?
Brian and I, once we decided to partner up but before we had a deal, we decided to look for directors. We looked at lots of directors, and Tate was on the top of our list of people. We thought that even though Tate was relatively inexperienced, he did have experience with doing “The Help,” which we liked. It was a bit of a leap of faith with Tate because he hadn’t done a lot. But he convinced us that he could do this and he had boundless enthusiasm and energy and vitality to push the project through, especially for the limited amount of money that we had to make it. We decided that Tate could do it. I think we were vindicated at the end.

When did you realize it was the right decision?
When you start seeing the first assembly cut, after the first couple of weeks. You know, “Okay, I think it’s working. We’re going to keep going!”

Tate’s going to be forever connected with James Brown, and I wanted to ask you about your connection with Martin Scorsese. Do you have a favorite scene from his movies set to your music?
I can’t remember. He’s used “Gimme Shelter” a lot. I’m doing this HBO series with Marty now. I think we’re talking about using Stones music in that. Some of it. But, yeah he has a really great flare for using music. He was one of the first who used loud rock music, like,
in your face. Before, it was sort of in the background, and he lets the music sometimes take over the scene in a really great way.

Presented by The Griper – E.Cowan

Written by

Toronto: Kevin Smith’s ‘Tusk’ To Get World Premiere

Categories: Uncategorized

ksKevin Smith’s bizarre walrus horror movie Tusk is getting a world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Smith’s film about an intrepid podcaster played by Justin Long, and also starring Johnny Depp, Haley Joel Osment and Genesis Rodriguez, will screen in the Midnight Madness sidebar. Toronto will help launch Tusk into theaters on September 19, via A24 Films.

Also set to debut in Toronto is Michael Winterbottom‘s film about the Amanda Knox murder trial, The Face of an Angel. The drama, starring Kate Beckinsale, Daniel Bruhl and Cara Delevingne, is loosely based on American journalist Barbie Latza Nadeau’s fictionalized adaptation of the initial 2009 trial and is booked into the Masters program.

Elsewhere, the Docs sidebar will debut Nick Broomfield’s Tales of the Grim Sleeper, about Los Angeles serial killer Lonnie Franklin Jr. and U.S. race relations. Toronto’s documentary section also booked world premieres for The Yes Men Are Revolting, by directors Laura Nix and media hoaxers Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonnano, aka The Yes Men; French director Tamara Erde’s This is My Land and Marah Strauch‘s Sunshine Superman, about the extreme sport of base jumping.

Ethan Hawke’s Seymour: An Introduction, about piano teacher and sage Seymour Bernstein, is getting an international premiere in Toronto, while there’s North American bows for Frederick Wiseman’s National Gallery and Jonathan Nossiter‘s Natural Resistance. Toronto programmers last week said they had booked Michael Moore’s Roger & Me for a 25th-anniversary screening as part of the Docs sidebar.

Elsewhere, the Midnight Madness section will open with an international premiere for Tokyo Tribe, by Japanese director Sion Sono.

Toronto’s gore and guts showcase also booked world bows for Jalmari Heleander’s Big Game, which stars Samuel L. Jackson as the President of the United States; Belgian rock star-turned- first time director Jonas GovaertsCub, about cub scouts camping and falling prey to a psychopath; and Jaume Balaguero‘s [REC]4: Apocalypse, the last film in the [REC] franchise.

There’s also international premiere for Australian director Mark Hartley’s Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films, after its world bow at the Melbourne International Film Festival on Aug. 2. David Robert Mitchell’s horror pic It Follows, which bowed in Cannes and stars Linda Boston and Heather Fairbanks, will get a North American bow in Toronto.

And Berberian Sound Studio director Peter Strickland’s latest genre pic, The Duke of Burgundy, will receive a world premiere in the Vanguard program. So too will writer/director Dave McKean’s Luna; Spring, by directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead; Belgian director Pieter Van HeesWaste Land; and Shrew’s Nest, by Spanish directors Juanfer Andres and Esteban Roel.

Elsewhere in the Vanguard program, Japanese director Takashi Miike’s Over Your Dead Body will receive an international premiere.

Toronto programmers will make additional lineup announcements over the coming weeks.

The Toronto International Film Festival is set to run from September 4 to 14.

Presented by The Griper – E.Cowan

Written by

Jay Leno Appears On ‘Last Comic Standing’

Categories: Uncategorized

jlThe former Tonight Show host appears in the competition’s “Title Round,” during which the five remaining comics are surprised by host J.B. Smoove with a trip to Las Vegas to work with “one of the funniest comedians in the world.” Leno is introduced by Wanda Sykes and is candidly asked questions about stand-up comedy. NBC notes that he answers them all, sharing personal stories and anecdotes about his experience as a comedian while also giving career advice.

Afterward, the finalists perform sets for judges Roseanne BarrKeenen Ivory Wayans and Russell Peters, who will determine which four will advance to the next round and which comic is headed home.

The season eight finale of Last Comic Standing airs Aug. 14. The show’s winner will receive a prize package worth $250,000, including a cash prize, a talent deal and a development deal for a television show.

Presented by The Griper – E.Cowan

Written by


%d bloggers like this: